Oakville has not always been known as Oakville.
The area wedged between the Meramec and the Mississippi rivers originally was called Miketown, according to local history books.
Residents named the area in recognition of Capt. Mike Tanzberger, who rallied a militia of 53 residents to defend Oakville from an invasion of Gen. Sterling Price’s rebel army during the Civil War.
“He instructed the women to pack their belongings and be ready to move to St. Louis should the rebels continue their march northward,” according to the publication Oakville Centennial, Sept. 10-13, 1959, which was sponsored by the Oakville Centennial Fair Committee.
However, the Union Army intercepted Price, and the battle was never fought. Regardless, the townspeople acknowledged Tanzberger for his bravery and named the land in his honor.
Or, so the legend claims.
Oddly enough, Miketown seems to appear only in local sources published nearly a century after the Civil War. National history records mention Oakville as early as 1841 and it consistently remains on maps of Missouri throughout the 19th century before, during and after the Civil War.
Dennis Northcott, associate archivist for reference at the Missouri History Museum, attempted to investigate the legend of Miketown after he visited Oakville Senior High School a few years ago.
“I had tried to figure it out at one time, but I was never able to document it,” he said. “I couldn’t find anything contemporary that could document it, and I tried to check any maps from the era, from the latter 1800s. I never saw it listed on a map as a town.”
“Miketown was short-lived,” according to Reflections: a History of the Mehlville School District and Its Communities. “In 1881 the name of the community officially became Oakville because of all those hardy oaks.”
“Surely, you know they got that from somewhere,” Northcott said. “Maybe it was just kind of familiarly known as that but never really official.”